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“I do not think I can be that technician.”

December 20, 2012

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Even though I have not seen Celia Oyler for nearly 30 years, I’ve kept up. We first met back when we were in the graduate progam at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Celia finished. I did not.

She moved to New York and got a job at Columbia’s Teacher College, teaching teachers.

How do I know how good she is? Well, as grad students we both taught classes in introduction to curriculum, evaluation and instruction. I stole everything I used in my class from her.

More recently we have reconnected on Facebook. And yesterday she posted this.

She will be a great loss to young teachers.

It’s the end of the semester — halfway through my 34th year of teaching (19th year of being a preservice teacher educator). Many of the people on my FB friends list are former students. 

I am deeply sad tonight. It was my last class of the semester and although I was moved and stimulated by my students’ final products and parting wisdom and creativity, (as always) I feel I must find a way to transition out of teacher education.

The edTPA is coming as a NYS mandate for certification. It is a high-stakes test based on two 10-minute video clips and lots of pages of text around it (about 30-60). The edTPA is a Pearson product, which will cost each preservice teacher $300. The student teacher uploads her/his files to Pearson and they are sent to a scorer and this calibrated scorer is paid $75 to decide if the preservice teacher will be certified. The person may be sitting at a computer in Idaho or Nebraska. 

My job as program coordinator demands that I help create plans so our students will pass the high-stakes test and get certified. But Ann Schulte is speaking to me. She says, ‘unless we “put our bodies upon the gears of the machine” we will be relegated to be the technicians who maintain it.”

The technician that maintains the machine (that crushes children and teachers). 

Friends, I do not think I can be that technician.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2012 9:45 am

    There’s a story by Ray Bradbury that keeps coming to mind …

    I have to rush off to the dentist now, so I’ll have to dig it up later …

    But perhaps some readers will have already guessed it …

  2. December 21, 2012 8:32 am

    Harrison Bergeron, perhaps?

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